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Monday, November 23, 2020

Across US, several electoral wins for Indian Americans

At the state assembly level, several wins have bolstered representation, especially for Indian American women.

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New York | Updated: November 9, 2020 7:14:49 am
Kamala Harris’ victory was the most high-profile, but many other Indian Americans made a mark on the election. (Photo: AP)

Even as US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has drawn much of the attention for being the first woman and person of Indian origin to hold the post, 200 to 300 other Indian Americans have secured electoral victories in the US, to state legislatures, school boards, and city councils, according to the forum Indiaspora.

“That old proverb (goes) if you don’t have a seat at the table you’re on the menu, and I think Indian Americans are realising that neither they nor their families can afford to be on the menu. So, they are pulling up the seats at the table and that means voting, but also running for office,” said Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the US House of Representatives from Illinois, at a post-Election Day Indiaspora conference.

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Krishnamoorthi, who coined the term ‘Samosa Caucus’, has been voted back into Congress along with other long serving Representatives Ami Bera and Ro Khanna from California, and Pramila Jayapal from Washington.

Several other candidates did not make the cut, including heavily-watched Sri Preston Kulkarni in Texas, Manga Anantamula in Virginia, and Himal Tiperni from Arizona. In the Senate, Rik Mehta in New Jersey and Sara Gideon in Maine lost their races.

At the state assembly level, several wins have bolstered representation, especially for Indian American women.

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Kesha Ram, who was elected to state assembly in Vermont, said she was the first woman of colour to be elevated to state senate. “Most people in Vermont are like, really we haven’t done that yet?… To speak to a broad group of people as a young woman of colour has taken time, so I’m glad to break this glass ceiling,” she said.

Others, like Ash Kalra from California, travelled to battleground states to campaign for Joe Biden. Padma Kuppa, running in Michigan, was endorsed by former president Barack Obama.

Several seats were won in communities that were not majority Indian. Nima Kulkarni of Kentucky won in a constituency that was predominately white and Black working class families.

Ghazala Hashmi, who won in Virginia, said: “The fact that central Virgina was ready to elect an immigrant and a Muslim American is really a sign of the kinds of incisive and welcoming environment Virgina has.”

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